Individuals served at Pillars often share feedback about their experience. Alyssa recently received assistance through the Pillars Diversion and Prevention Program and shared her story with us, one that we wanted to pass along to you. *Her name has been changed to protect her privacy, but the rest of the information in this post is true.
Alyssa lives as a single mother to a disabled son. Before coming to Pillars, she says life was going well. She worked as a staffing specialist at a temporary employment agency and owned a newer car while also renting an apartment. It is through her job that Alyssa worked with a lot of men and women experiencing homelessness and others looking for a second chance. “I go above and beyond for my hard workers and would often help them with paperwork and work with agencies to help them out,” she tells us.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit those workers hard right away last March. Alyssa was furloughed from her job for eight weeks, too, but she still managed to pay her bills with help from unemployment – at least in the beginning. Alyssa’s son receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and because she was receiving unemployment, his payments were cut to zero effectively removing him from the insurance. This change left Alyssa with no way to pay for his expensive medications that were way outside of her budget.
Then, her unemployment payments dropped, and she was still not back at work. To make matters worse, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) decided to audit Alyssa leaving her without any payments for six weeks. The audit caused her to fall behind on rent by two months, and she received a five-day eviction notice on her door the day she returned to work with reduced hours. While she was protected from eviction under an executive order, she started making plans to move her belongings into a friend’s storage unit and to sleep on someone’s couch with her son until she saved enough money to rent a new apartment. But her plans crumbled when she could not find anyone to temporarily house her and her son. “My son and I were looking at homelessness,” said Alyssa. “I didn’t know what to do. My whole life was falling apart in six months.”
While she was at work, Alyssa was asked to give a ride to a client with an appointment at Pillars. This client was experiencing homelessness and receiving services and support from Pillars. She shared her personal situation with the client who gave her the name of his case manager: “I called the next day, and I’m so grateful I did.”
Alyssa had a meeting with diversion case manager, Luanne. Together, they looked at her situation and devised plans to help her not only stay in her apartment but possibly get into a better one. She left with a stack of resources and applications along with a better understanding of her budget.
“I immediately got to work,” said Alyssa. “I worked with her on everything we set out in my plan. I completed all of the forms and followed up with her every step of the way.” With Luanne’s support and some elbow grease, Alyssa was able to catch up on all of her overdue rent. She also has a plan to pay off her vehicle which would free up an additional $400 per month, and she says this is just a start.
“I can’t express how grateful I am to know there is an organization out there that was able to help me help myself out of one of the darkest times in my life,” said Alyssa.